Dejan Antic & Branimir Maksimovic, The Modern Bogo 1.d4 e6: A Complete Guide for Black. New in Chess, 2014. 476 pp. $29.95/€24.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.
A couple of years ago this duo wrote The Modern French, and as a companion repertoire piece they've produced The Modern Bogo. Note the move order given in the title: not 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+, but 1.d4 e6. They thus invite transposition to the French (and to the material in their other book) while cutting out some White options like the Trompowsky.
The book is offered as offering a complete repertoire for Black after 1.d4 e6 - except for the French - but this isn't quite right. The book is limited to the material after the moves 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+ - a line that used to be named for Paul Keres but which they dub the Modern Bogo, as opposed to the traditional Bogo-Indian as defined in the previous paragraph. Thus if White plays 2.Nf3 and delays c4 for a while, you're out of luck if this book is your guide. No London System, no Torre Attack, no Catalan (or at least Catalan-like development). This is no reason not to get the book, just a warning that there's other work left to do once you have this and a book on the French - assuming of course you're willing to play the French.
But what if you don't want to play the French but are interested in the Bogo--is this book for you? Yes, and a nice feature is an unusual double index of variations: one for 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+ without (a quick) ...Nf6, and another one for positions that can arise via the 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ move order. You can also take heart in the authors' assertion in the Foreword that 90% of the material can come up via the traditional move order. So while there are some advantages to the authors' move order if you're a French player, you don't have to take up that opening to benefit from this Bogo book.
Here's a question you might have about the so-called Modern Bogo: is the Nimzo-Indian merely a variation (a colossal one) within another opening? And how can they cram a full Nimzo-Indian repertoire inside a book on the Bogo? The answer is that they don't. After 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+ they propoose meeting 3.Nc3 not with 3...Nf6, transposing into the Nimzo, but with the sly 3...c5. (They don't recommend avoiding the Nimzo-Indian, but a book, like a man, has gotta know its limitations.) There are a few places where the material does transpose to a Nimzo-Indian, but not too many - it's manageable.
The book is a very large one, and this is in part because they present three major lines for Black after 3.Bd2: 3...Bxd2+ (about 120 pages), 3...c5 (about 80 pages) and 3...a5 (approximately 146 pages). If you don't like one system and you suddenly discover a problem with the second, then no problem: you've still got what's behind door number three. Another nice feature of the book is that each section typically has three exercises to solve; there are over 100 in all.
I'm no expert on the Bogo, even relative to my rating peers, so I took a look in the database to pick out a line that seemed relatively hot, and then checked what I found with what's in the book. One thing I quickly discovered is that the book needs a firmer editorial hand: an awful lot of space is spent on inferior lines; that is, lines the authors themselves consider inferior! In the material I cover in the PGN file there are at least two places where they offer some new move as an improvement for Black over existing theory, and then go on to offer a sentence or a paragraph on the new move but a page on the inferior old move. It's often good to say something about the move you're improving upon, in part to help make clear why the new move is better, but that can almost always be done in a paragraph or two rather than a full page. On the flip side, I found what seemed to me a surprising omission of an important White option, but maybe I missed a transposition somewhere. (I don't think I did, but it's possible.)
Another mix-up that happens to even the most diligent of authors is that they missed transpositions. I found such an instance in the bit I examined. There's a choice at move 14 of one line to play 14...Nd7 or 14...Nc6, and in each line there's a branch where Black plays ...Nxe5. At a certain point after the lines were again identical their comments about each diverged slightly. It is also in that line that I believe I improved on their analysis for White, though there's an earlier alternative they offer which probably is good enough for equality. (They don't consider it their main line though, so their readers will be more prone to go down the wrong path.)
Positively, they seem to have interacted with all the important games as of their writing, and have found many genuine improvements over existing theory. They are diligent and creative authors, an impression I had from their French book as well. So this is a useful book for Bogo-Indian players, though it would have been more useful with better editing.
(My look at their analysis of part one trendy line is here.)